Summary: If people will summarize your entire life in a single sentence, try to influence that sentence. You and I are the authors of our own “Life Sentences.” The next step for most of will be to decide to live life on purpose.

Response Goal: Individuals prompted by the Holy Spirit will think about questions designed to help them begin to write their Life Sentences on purpose.

REPENTANCE POINT {paradigm shifts or changes in our thinking}: With a single sentence, your friends and family will summarize your entire life. What will the sentence be? This is your life sentence. If people will summarize your entire life in a single sentence, try to influence that sentence. Each man or woman has the opportunity to affect his or her legacy. You and I are the authors of our own “Life Sentences.” The next step for most of will be to decide to live life on purpose.



Everyone should get a “Life Sentence” for Christmas. Don’t panic! I don’t mean a life sentence prison term. I mean a single sentence that will summarize his or her life. Keith Drury introduced me to this concept. The author, Claire Booth Luce popularized the "Life Sentence" idea. She observed that ultimately history summarizes a person’s life in a single sentence.

Historians sum up an entire life up with a single sentence – a headline of sorts. For example, who was Andrew Johnson? “He was the only (rather, first) President to be impeached.” Or, who was Jimmy Carter? "He’s the former president that builds homes with Habitat for Humanity."

Friends and family summarize whole lives with one sentence, too. I hear these Life Sentences all the time at funeral homes. “He was such a kind man.” “She loved children.” “He loved to go fishing and hunting with his buddies.”

You can find Life Sentences in the Bible too. The Bible sums up the lives of Israel’s ancient kings by saying, “He followed the Lord like his ancestor David” or “He failed to follow the Lord like his ancestor David.”

Jesus came to earth knowing he would have a Life Sentence, too. In Luke 19:10 he said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.” Peter summed up Jesus’ life with this sentence; “He went around doing good” (Acts 10:38).

Jesus launched his work with people with another sentence after he read the following prophecy from the book of Isaiah.

Text: Listen to these sentences.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,

because the LORD has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion--

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

After Jesus read that passage, he summed up his life with a short sentence. “Today this passage has been fulfilled.” In other words, “This Scripture is about me.”

Jesus came to earth with a mission, and he fulfilled it. He determined what his Life Sentence would be and lived to make it a reality.


We will write our own Life Sentences – either on purpose or by accident. Our Life Sentences can be like Jesus’ Life Sentence, “He went around doing good,” if we live to make it so.

Key Question:

How can we write our own Life Sentences on purpose like Jesus did?

I. First, to intentionally write our own Life Sentences, we must determine who we will help.

A. Each of us needs to ask himself or herself, “Who am I here to serve?

Every business has a clear idea about who their target customer is. Male or female? Young or old? White collar or blue collar? Educated or non-educated? Politically conservative or politically liberal? Every business has to answer the question, “Who is our target market?”

B. We need to ask, “Who am I here to serve? Who will I do good to?”

Isaiah tells us exactly who our target market is. He said, “The spirit of the Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.”

C. Every Christian’s “target market” is the afflicted, the broken hearted, the captives, the imprisoned. Where do we find these people? Everywhere! When it comes to human misery, race, economics, or social standards make no difference. In any neighborhood, in any state or country in the world, you will find hurting people.

People who are lost and hurting matter a great deal to God. Jesus once compared it to a man who owns a hundred sheep and loses one. Jesus said, “Will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go look for the one who has wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12)

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